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Exploring perioperative handoff communication amongst an expatriate healthcare team

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posted on 13.01.2021, 14:08 authored by Stephanie Mantley
Aim: To explore participant experiences and perceptions of perioperative handoff communication amongst an expatriate healthcare team in a tertiary hospital in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Background: Expatriates comprise ninety percent of the UAE’s healthcare workforce. Subsequent workforce diversity results in varied languages, culture, education, and experience, posing implications for communication. The perioperative setting is a time challenged, efficiency driven environment where handoff communication is subject to various challenges, and poor communication is linked to adverse patient events. Research into perioperative handoff communication amongst diverse expatriates was undertaken to identify challenges and inform practice.
Research Method: A descriptive phenomenological approach using semi-structured individual interviews with culturally and professionally diverse perioperative staff. Colaizzi’s Seven Step Framework for Data Analysis enabled identification of three emergent themes.
Findings: The primary theme highlighted challenges with intercultural communication. Lack of structure, varied experience, communication behaviours, practice expectations, and hierarchy were also identified as influencing handoff communication.
Implications: Handoff communication is impeded by a lack of standardization and structure, as well as differing cultural and professional practice expectations.
Conclusion: Culture and language differences amongst the expatriate team had a noteworthy impact on handoff communication and team function. Varied cultural values, professional experience, and influence of hierarchy need to be understood to overcome communication difficulties and support team integration.
• Organizational orientation to working in a culturally diverse healthcare setting
• Cultural competence program to mitigate ethnocentrism and cultural division
• Prioritize appropriate staffing mix and position allocation to ensure safety
• Implementation of standardized perioperative handoff tools and terminology


First Supervisor

Dr. May McCreaddie


Submitted in part fulfillment of the Degree of Master of Science in Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-MUB Bahrain

Published Citation

Mantley S. Exploring perioperative handoff communication amongst an expatriate healthcare team [MSc Thesis]. Bahrain: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; 2019.

Degree Name

MSc Nursing

Date of award



  • MSc Nursing (Bahrain)